Nosa is the eldest son of a lecturer at the University of Benin, Edo State, Dr. Godwin Omofonmwan, who was recently killed by armed robbers. He shares the grief of the family with ALEXANDER OKERE
Tell us about yourself.
I am 22 years old. I am a 400-Level student at the UNIBEN.
What happened the day your father died?
On January 23, at about 9pm, my father came back from work. He had his dinner and relaxed for some time. He later received a call and told me that he was going to see one of his neighbours. Few hours later, he returned. I noticed that he opened the gate, locked it and entered the house. Immediately he entered, I came out from my room, greeted him and went back into my room.
Later, I checked my phone at about 11pm, looked through my window and I saw somebody with a black cap. The cap has an inscription. As I tried to look further, I noticed that they were more than one. One of them (robbers) pointed his gun at me and I closed the window. I came out of my room and raised the alarm that some persons, who looked like thieves, were outside. My mother, who was lying down, stood up and asked who was outside but none of them responded. As she opened the curtain and asked again, they shot her through the window. She was hit in her right shoulder and she started screaming.
Where was your father at that point?
My father stood up and went inside. After shooting, the robbers entered the house. They were already in the balcony when they shot her and they damaged the burglary proof. After the first shot, I went into the room. Suddenly, I heard multiple gunshots and they ordered us to come out or they would shoot us. When I came out, they started asking me where the money was.
I told them that I just returned from school and did not know the money they were talking about. But they insisted, saying that they knew that there was money in the house. One of them told my father that he thought he was smart and that they came prepared.
They took me inside and collected my father’s laptop. They later dropped the laptop and collected all our phones. They also told me to go inside and lie down. They started ransacking the house and later left. I realised they had gone when I could no longer hear footsteps. I went out to check what was happening and I saw my father bleeding on the floor. Immediately, I looked for the key to the gate, came out and started shouting. The neighbours thought that the robbers were still around, so it took time for me to tell them to come and help us. One of the neighbours brought his car and we moved my parents to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. He later died.
Have there been previous robberies in the vicinity?
Actually, we had been robbed in the past. We just moved into the area then. When they came, they shook the gate loudly; so, my father had to open it in order to avoid any damage. When they entered, as of that time, they knocked him unconscious with a shovel. They later left, after taking the money they found.
Do you think that it was the same robbers that came back?
I do not know. I did not recognise them.
Do you think your father had a disagreement with anyone?
I do not think so.
Did you inform the police about the incident?
No. I was not even around when the police came because I was at the hospital with my parents. While I was at a hospital, a police van drove in and the policemen said a robber was killed. They told me to come and see the robber. I came and saw the dead robber.
What is your reaction to the killing of the suspected robber by the police?
I heard something different about how the robber died. I learnt that the robbers also went to someone else’s house and that the owner of the house engaged them in a gun battle and killed one of them.
Is it true that your mother is in a critical condition now?
She is responding to treatment.
How are you and your siblings coping since the incident occurred?
People, including friends and relatives, are around to comfort us. I have three siblings and the youngest has been asking me for the whereabouts of our father. He doubts that our father is dead.
How close were you to your late father?
We were very close. We used to interact on a lot of things. He studied vocational and technical education. He used to teach me how to repair machines. He taught me how to be smart. He was supposed to travel to the United States of America for a conference five days after the day of the incident. I told him that I would begin my industrial training this year and he was able to work it out for me with his friend. That was the plan we had. The killing of my dad shattered my heart. My father had been there for me. He was my mentor.
Is it true that your mother hasn’t been told of your father’s death?
Yes, she has yet to be told. It would be devastating for her to hear about it. I know she would feel bad. My parents are very careful people. But I think that the robbers trailed him on his way home. I want the police to beef up security in the area because the robbery took about an hour. They had a double-barrel gun and I wonder how they were able to get that kind of gun.
Is it possible for you to forgive the robbers for killing your father?
I know that people would expect me to say no. But I am a Christian and I also believe in forgiveness. But even as I believe in forgiveness, I believe in justice. The people who did this to us should be brought to book because injustice will make justice impossible and that is the truth. If those people could do what they did and go scot-free, others may want to follow suit and that would not be helpful. I want justice.